October 22, 2012 4 Comments
Given the nature of our business we see a heck of a lot of injured people and their families. Some are injured by doctors, some by car wrecks or big truck crashes, some by dog bites, some by individuals breaking up marriages and some by insurance companies denying life or disability claims. For just about every which way a person can be injured, we represent the injured people in litigation.
There are some instances in which you can purchase insurance for your own injuries. One of those instances where you can protect yourself is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. However, there is a problem. People rarely have enough UM to compensate themselves for their injuries.
UM is supposed to work like this…..If you get injured in a car wreck due to the negligence of someone with no insurance, then your UM insurance pays for your medical bills, loss of wages, and pain and suffering up to the limits of your UM policy.
You can purchase UM coverage up to the limits of your auto liability policy. Therefore, if you purchase $50,000 in liability coverage, you can also get $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. Some of our clients carry up to $250,000 in liability and UM. However, far too often we see UM policies that are written for less than the liability limits. In a recent case, the client carried $250,000 of liability coverage, but only $25,000 in UM. Why? Because the insurance carrier had the client sign a waiver to reduce the UM.
$25,000 may sound like plenty, but let me put it into perspective. A common injury in car wrecks (particularly rear end wrecks) is a torn rotator cuff (shoulder). Setting aside the $1,500 ride to the hospital in the ambulance, the cost to repair a torn rotator cuff including the surgeon, anesthesiologist, physical therapy and prescribed medication is somewhere around $20,000 to $25,000 depending on the facility. There goes your $25,000 in UM.
But that isn’t the end of it. You will be wearing a sling on your arm for about 6 weeks. After about 3 months, you will be able to lift 5 to 10 pounds over your head. At 6 months, you be at about 75% and you will be close to 100% about a year after your surgery. So what about your loss of wages? If you spent your $25,000 on the surgery and signed that waiver with your insurance agent, you are pretty well out of luck.
That is a bad result but, consider what would happen if you were injured in a remote area of the state and University Medical Center sent AirCare to pick you up. That flight alone can cost $25,000. What about wrecks where a spouse is killed and the family is left with a permanent loss of income. $25,000 of uninsured motorist is nothing. Do not blindly trust your agent when he or she says “you have full coverage.” I have yet to depose an insurance adjuster and have them tell me that means anything other than the insured has the state MINIMUM limits.
Enough with the gloom and doom. Here is my point. Compared to other types of insurance, UM is very cheap. Call your insurance agent. Buy UM, get all you can and NEVER waive UM coverage. Protect yourself and protect your family.
Mississippi leads the nation in uninsured drivers with about 28% of the drivers on the road uninsured. That means more than 1 out of 4 vehicles on the road has no insurance. As Regina Whitehead recently found out, after a wreck it is too late to increase your coverage.